Is Hookup Regret More Common in Women? The better the sex, the less regret. By Susan Kolod, Ph.D.
Something seems a little off here.
I have no problem with the idea that women experience less satisfaction during hook-ups and that communication is a big part of it; but, I also know that women's brains tend to produce more oxytocin and I suspect that's a big part too. Emotional closeness in a relationship tends to correlate to greater sexual satisfaction in both men and women and I think it's a mistake to minimize neurobiology and treat this as a purely social issue.
Communication is part of it; but I think love, trust and feelings of safety and security are a big part as well.
I'm sure that there is a social component, it just doesn't seem likely that it's the whole story.
Also, I'm concerned that if we treat it as a social issue, or only a social issue, it may imply that women should be OK with hooking up and therefore actually create peer pressure that promotes that behavior. Simply calling it a social issue demonizes society and promotes a "I will not let society dictate what I do with my body" mentality which can lead to more hook-ups and thus more regret if we minimize the biological and other psychological factors. (I agree that women do have a right to determine what they do with their bodies; but, let's admit that sheer contrariness is a lousy reason to do anything, especially something with potentially life-changing consequences like sex.)
Also let's not forget that fear of violence, unwanted pregnancy and disease (and the social fear of being found out and viewed as a slut) are real concerns that often get minimized in the name of sexual freedom and liberation. These concerns weighing on a woman's mind may well contribute to lower satisfaction and more regret in a hook-up.
I wonder if even the social stigma associated with promiscuity may have a biological, self-protective component. It seems likely that to me that shame comes, at least in part, from knowing that you did something with such potentially devastating long-term consequences. (The fear of unwanted pregnancy and/or disease may be repressed in the moment, but then comes back later as a wave of shame.) Shame may be your own brain trying to retrain you to resist potentially self-destructive behavior in the future.
Perhaps there is something evolutionary at the heart of the social pressures.
"I think it's a mistake to minimize neurobiology and treat this as a purely social issue... but I think love, trust and feelings of safety and security are a big part as well."
And in a society that laughs at rapes, blames women for being raped, calls women sluts for having sex and is used as an excuse the let rapists off because "she's done it before so she must like it".
I'm sure men can't understand that society is what causes "love, trust and feelings of safety and security" or lack thereof which in our society is the latter. Love, trust, safety can be had by a stranger as much as an intimate if society was built around these things.. but they are not. they are built on boys scoring notches on their belts and proving their manhood and society telling women that the only worth they have is the sex the don't give. People don't feel safe doing something when they know there will be a consequence. Boys are rewards for sex and honored for it. I would imagine many boys don't feel "unsafe" because they know they will be socially shamed for what they did. It will not be looked at as a lessening of worth or a sign of mental illness. It must bring feelings of safety to know you will be rewarded for your actions and not shamed for them.
No woman would have shame for doing it if people weren't calling her a slut for doing so and turnign around to reward men for the same action. I would love to see one biological animal that has shame over sex. Only human males have twisted sex into a commodity that they have a legal right too (remember there were laws written giving men legal right to rape their wives.. I would love for you to show this kind of depraved thinking in nature)
And in nature.. animals of BOTH sexes are allowed to fend for themsevles. in humanity. Man made it illegal for women to fend for themselves. it was illegal to own money, land.. you know.. that stuff people need to live.
Now I know its hard for men to exerience empathy, but if it were men who weren't allowed to fend for themselvs.. that they were required to marry SOLEY for survival - what could they possibly have to offer when everything has been stripped of them? Their "seed" (correct analogy is pollen - and egg is a seed and the sperm is pollen - men's egos created the idea that men carried the life-giving force when we now understand that women are the ones who do so) When women have a right to life on their own - there is no need to make your only worth hinge on your vagina. When one lives for themself (as men have been doing since the beginning of history) they can find their own worth and not have another person dictating that worth to you (the way men did to women since the beginning of history)
I would love to know how sex is "self-destructive" when it is a biological function. is it "self-destructive" when you know you will be socially shamed/reprimanded for your actions but act on them anyway? in that case, it's men calling women sluts that is destructive.. not the sexual act itself.
Take away men shaming women for getting theirs and see how much shame is left. Switch it around and start shaming men for what they do while praising women for doing the same thing and see where the shame falls...
If it were biological a female would feel shame for having sex even if they were rewarded for it by society... Good luck trying to convince anyone of that. I mean.. any woman... of course a man is going to agree with anything that doesn't make him accountable for his actions.
So hows Liberia these days?
You seem to have missed my comment elsewhere; but, I find the hook-up culture in men repugnant. I find men who objectify women and who view women only as sex objects as inferior specimens of the human species. I hope one day that we evolve as a species and have a world without such BS. We need to transcend this narcissistic streak.
I would be delighted if 1st offense rapists were castrated so that there is no chance of them passing on their genes. They are a blight on humanity that should be expunged.
That said, I tend to view ANY hook-ups (male or female) as immature people who lack self-control. The double-standard is BS because it allows and even encourages predatory behavior; but, the solution is not to say "let's all do it."
It appears that we agree that the men who perpetuate the hook-up culture are self-involved assholes. My question is "Why would anyone want to be more like them?"
In a world where STD's, unwanted pregnancy and rape are real threats it seems unwise to gamble with casual sex. That is why I say it is self-destructive. There are countless people who have gotten AIDS who will agree that casual sex can be very self-destructive. There are countless mothers who wish that they had been older before they had children who would agree that casual sex can be self-destructive. The only sure strategy to avoid these issues is avoidance.
To whatever extent our natural impulses work against our long-term best interests is the extent that they are self-destructive. That's what the intellect and willpower are for.
It probably goes without saying at this point that I believe that sex is best in a committed relationship with someone you love and who loves you. That's when sex is safe.
There is no love in a casual hook-up, only lust. You cannot have love without really taking the time to get to know one another. You need countless hours of talking and listening where you build intimacy and build a strong relationship. It takes time getting to know someone to know that you can trust them. This will never apply to a relative stranger when you have a hook-up.
You bring up animals and shame; but, there are an awful lot of animals where rape is far more common than it is in most human societies. I'm inclined to believe that aggression, including a tendency towards rape, is largely genetic and that cultural forces (such as the police and organized religion) can and do often mitigate that (for example, some people become monks in order to deal with their darker impulses.)
I suggest that you read this book review about the book SEXUAL COERCION IN PRIMATES AND HUMANS: An Evolutionary Perspective on Male Aggression Against Females: http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/despicable-yes-but-not-in...
That said, whether it is biological or not, it is inexcusable. (The biological component is why I believe in castrating rapists.) I agree that often our culture is often too quick to blame the victim and that the way that some victims of rape have been treated is revolting.
But, back to the issue of shame, I would argue that shame and empathy are inseparable. Shame is a big part of why people don't hurt each other. Shame is a part of self-restraint and showing respect to another. The only people without shame are narcissists.
I feel empathy for the potential children born into poverty.
I feel empathy for those children born with AIDS or other STDs.
I feel empathy for the families of single mothers who suddenly have additional responsibilities thrust on them.
I feel empathy for the tax-payers who have to pay extra taxes for the government programs so that the little one's born without adequate support systems can have a decent shot at life.
So yes, I find it shameful when anyone (male or female) willingly risks disease and pregnancy for a few minutes of pleasure when they are not in a position to take proper care of a potential child.
Most of the time "Don't shame me" is a psychological defense mechanism that immature people use to run from the important questions like "Is this really a good idea?" so that they can do what they want without worrying about the consequences; but, whether you worry about them or not you cannot control consequences, only your actions.
It is immature. It is selfish. It is narcissistic behavior that we need to put behind us.
-You said- "If it were biological a female would feel shame for having sex even if they were rewarded for it by society."
That's an interesting argument; but, as I think I've established the shame I'm referring to has more to do with knowing that there are consequences to your actions. "I shouldn't have done that. What if I get pregnant? What if he had AIDS?" I think that there is a fair body of evidence that these self-protective fears have a significant biological component.
Even the fear "What will people think?" has a biological component since we are biologically programmed to crave the approval of our peers.
My argument is that repressing and dismissing these fears contributes to "morning after" shame and that women (who have deal with pregnancy) have more to fear and thus more shame.
Now, if your argument is about shame over wanting and enjoying sex that's a very different thing and I'm inclined to agree that that's mostly social; but, I think that what we're dealing with is that the natural fear/shame that I mentioned above influenced cultural viewpoints and got exaggerated and distorted over time.
And please, do not assume that all men are less empathetic than women. As with all other stereotypes it is misleading at best. There are plenty of people of both genders who are selfish and manipulative just as there are those who set an admirable example of love and light.
You show your own immaturity and lack of empathy when you make assumptions like that and you hurt your cause by lashing out at good-hearted men who are willing to fight for women's rights.
There lies the big diffence. A man don't have find his partner attractive. For many men, any women will do.
If man has sex with ugly, old nasty person, it's still sex. If woman does the same, she propably regret it later.
So, women's regret is strongly related to the qualities of a man, observed both before and after the sex.
that implies women have to pay for being too choosy. Less choices would bring less regrets.
I'm a man and I do in fact have to find my partner attractive. Added desperation works both ways. A desperate for sex man will lower his standards but so will a woman.
If you look at couples, how often do you see a ugly man with a attractive woman? Now how often do you see an attractive man with an ugly woman?
Women are far more forgiving in looks for the most part.
Some guys will have sex with "anything" yes, but I would not call them the majority of males.
When one speaks of casual sex one can usually expect the word "women" in the same sentence. Do women feel ashamed? Are they depressed? Did they have an orgasm?
The double standard rules.
When men have casual sex we celebrate, no shaming here. God forbid I should be the outlier. Men seem to think they are achieving something. I think there is more than a little cause for concern that men seem to be predators, preying on women who are drunk, under the influence or have done something that has lowered their guard. Is this the new way for young men to feel they are achieving intimacy and connection? If so, they will learn they are sorely mistaken.
Men are more likely to commit suicide than women. Maybe there is a connection between this acceptable practice of male temporary sexual liaisons, glorification of sexual conquests and later personal isolation and depression. Nobody wants to discuss this or study it because men never do anything wrong.
Personally I find the glorification of promiscuity in men utterly revolting.
People need to give and receive enduring love in their lives in order to be happy. There is no long-term happiness in chasing fleeting sensory pleasure.
It worries me how many people think that the answer is to make women more accepting of the practice instead of trying to get men to be less accepting of it.
Its glorified because its part of our genetic makeup. It fits with male reproductive strategy. Men who are promiscuous have more children than those who are not, with more women, increasing their overall fitness.
All this became null and void for the most part with effective birth control but that doesn't mean our genes are still not living in the past.
Rather than be disgusted by our sexual urges I embrace them, because when your genes are happy, you are happy. This does in fact include women. Women's reproductive strategy is to "cheat", they like a fling too.
Now we can go your route and demonize recreational sex, or we can embrace our sexuality in a way that isn't harmful to others (cheating, cuckolding).
I'm going to go out on a limb and say I'm far more happy with my sex life than most married males because my wife and I have chosen the path of "ethical non-monogamy" aka we are swingers. About 3-4 times a year we "hook up" with another couple. Everyone is happier, we are closer as a couple, and "shockingly" are happy for each other too. I realize most people only know of this sort of thing from ridiculously wrong rumors told at parties about the town just over, but its a viable alternative to the usual affairs and denial of the "vanilla" world.
For those relationships where both choose swinging I see no problem, though I do find it hard to relate to.
Personally, it wouldn't work. I put way too much stock in loyalty and would feel generally terrible all around. Even if given permission to have a fling, it would still feel like cheating (I don't even like pornography because of the same feeling.)
Not everyone has the same genes or the same upbringing and the same happiness strategy will not work for all.
That said, if you have found something that makes you happy, I'm happy for you. There is too much misery in this world.
This seems to be very detailed and clear article on female perceptions of hook-ups. I believe most women would agree with the conclusions. I agree with the aspects that social inhibitions still suppress women to completely enjoy casual sexual experiences, irrespective of satisfaction and future repercussions. Male and female reproductive/sexual/hormonal responses are designed to behave this way.
The biases, judgments and social role expectations somehow contribute to these. The author has stated very clearly that in 60s and 70s during times of 'sexual revolution' women were more under peer pressure to become sexually 'liberated'. The era of 60s-70s is an ideal period in human history that can serve as an 'experimental condition' for such studies. Although such behaviors and adventures are not common today, but the 'residuals' that are left by them in the form of mixed sense of sexual freedom (more hook-ups than before) does not leave women in a better position to shun all social inhibitions. Although we listen, see and read a lot about women getting more liberal in sexual attitudes and see feminism on the rise every now and then, but the ground reality is still primitive (may be evolutionary). Women are still not able to enjoy sex more, still are more emotionally driven than being 'just casual', still 'choose' and have 'standards' in selecting their mates. It is far more easier for men to indulge in as well enjoy casual sex more.
A question usually comes to my mind when I read such articles on casual sex - how would males or females decide about a mate if they really get 'casual' towards sex equally? Females would start getting violent for their sexual desires, there would be more male-rapes, men would also be objectified for sex. But apart from everything else, how would they choose to settle in a relationship?
the women would openly leer and catcall at in relation to how large or small the man's penis was. This would require the men to men to wear tight garments so their "tool" was displayed more openly. The women would regularly use their partner to achieve their own orgasm with little regard or concern for their partner's satisfaction. They would expect their partner to moan in pleasure while they, in fact, were the one being pleasured. And then, after it was over, and the men were left in a state of arousal but most likely not brought to climax, these guys could paste a smile on their face and say it was great. And if they objected to the double standard, they would call the men crazy and hormonal.
Ever see females at a male strip club? Dear god, they make men look tame and demure.
Thank you for your comments. Oxytocin is released during orgasm. As you have pointed out the release of oxytocin creates feelings of trust and closeness between people. All the more reason why orgasm is important!!
"40 percent of women had an orgasm during their last hookup involving intercourse, while 80 percent of men did. By contrast, roughly three quarters of women in the survey said they had an orgasm the last time they had sex in a committed relationship."
I notice you didn't mention the percentage of men who had an orgasm the last time they had sex in a committed relationship. Why is this? My guess is that it would be quite a bit higher than 80%, which would mean that men, like women, are more likely to orgasm in a committed relationship than during a hookup.
This would go against the preferred narrative though, which is that hookup sex is awesome for men but not women.
In fact, achieving orgasm is difficult for many women, whether in a relationship or a hookup. (As you noted, only 75% of women in committed relationship had an orgasm during their most recent sex.)
More information about formatting options
Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Action, edited by Susan Kolod, Ph.D., and Melissa Ritter, Ph.D, is under the auspices of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, the journal of the William Alanson White Institute.
Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?